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Redesigning urban infrastructures: New infrastructure design imaginaries and practices

Tubridy, Daniel (2019) Redesigning urban infrastructures: New infrastructure design imaginaries and practices. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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According to Rubio and Fogué (2013, 1039), cities are witnessing a “technological and infrastructural invasion” associated with new low-carbon and sustainable technologies. In this context, infrastructure has (re-)emerged as a topic of debate in design theory and practice. One strand of this debate which, the thesis argues, constitutes a new infrastructure design imaginary suggests that new infrastructures should be designed as “multifunctional” systems, taking account of potential ecological, aesthetic and cultural benefits. It is suggested that design could facilitate new affective relationships between people, infrastructures and ecological systems, thereby contributing to sustainability. Now that new approaches to design are being adopted in some places and circumstances, there is an opportunity to investigate their assumptions, logics and effects and whose interpretation of design and aesthetics is given legitimacy. As such, the overall aim of this thesis was to explore contemporary meanings and practices of infrastructure design. This has encompassed an investigation of what types of infrastructure are being designed, what model of design is adopted and who the “infrastructure designer” mobilised might be. Evidence has been collected in two stages through a total of 42 interviews, first, in a scoping phase with a sample of infrastructure design professionals and, second, in two case studies of stormwater design, Hans Tavsens Park and Korsgade in Copenhagen and “Grey to Green” in Sheffield. The case studies explore where, how and why new visions of infrastructure design are being realised and describes the actors, institutions and agendas which influence the infrastructure design process. The key finding of the case study research is that understanding infrastructure design visions and practices requires exploring the material, institutional and economic context for design. Investigation of the context for design demonstrates that seemingly avant-garde design strategies have, in both cases, become implicated in socially-exclusive processes of transformation. Overall, the research foregrounds and explores an under-researched and under-valued dimension of urban development. It establishes a conceptual framework to guide future research in a field that is likely to become more important. Its key contribution is to provide new perspectives and in-depth analysis of both contemporary visions of infrastructure design and on the infrastructure design process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Urban Studies and Planning (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.766576
Depositing User: Daniel Tubridy
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2019 09:40
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2019 20:06
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22841

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